REPLY: [pbs] Fragrances that Surprise--TOW

Jane McGary
Wed, 14 Apr 2004 09:41:35 PDT
Many flowers, including hyacinths, the Oriental and trumpet lilies and 
hyacinths mentioned by John Grimshaw, and the tazetta narcissi mentioned by 
Dave Karnstedt, have fragrances that are unpleasant in a warm room but much 
more tolerable outdoors on a cool spring day or summer evening. One also 
thinks of shrub flowers such as Hamamelis and jasmine, and I wouldn't bring 
in my beloved Acer cissifolium's flowers, either. A few years ago I was 
sold an Azara (not the commonly grown one) as a desirable fragrance plant, 
but one day in the house when it was blooming, and it was banished. I don't 
know whether it is the concentration of the scent that makes it unpleasing 
to many people, or whether different aromatic compounds are released at 
different temperatures. It may also depend on the age of the flowers -- the 
scent of many seems to deteriorate after a day or two indoors.

Regarding Narcissus tazetta, different subspecies and cultivars have quite 
different fragrances. I like to have certain paperwhites in the house, but 
not others. N. tazetta subsp. panizzianus, which is hardy in my garden, has 
a very good fragrance, as does an Italian wild form of the bicolored subsp. 
tazetta that I grew from seed.

What smells we like are as different as what tastes we like. This may be 
due in part to memory and in part to individual sensitivity, like the 
hypersensitivity of about a quarter of individuals to bitter taste (I'm 
among them and can't stand tannic wines, hoppy beers, and bitter greens). I 
can't bear artificial musk elements in perfumes, but some women wear 
nothing else, and these elements are prominent in many men's colognes. Some 
people dislike the smell of dogs, even
clean ones; for my part I dislike the smell of cats, not just their 
leavings but their carefully cleaned fur too -- and this may be memory and 

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

At 09:53 AM 4/14/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated 13-Apr-04 11:46:55 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> writes:
> > I have no objection to the stinks of aroids and frits, but what I really
> > hate is the scent of lilies and hyacinths. A bed of trumpet or oriental
> > lilies pumping out their sickly pong pollutes the air about it, and I have
> > to leave - much though I admire the plants and their flowers.
>John ~
>Fragrance is a funny thing, to say the least!  What is fragrant to one, can
>be nauseating to another.  Then there are folks who can't smell anything!  I
>grow a great many lilies (and specialize in L. martagon and hybrids; to my 
>they have a musky and unpleasant fragrance that others find appealing), and,
>while I find most lily fragrance wonderful on a warm afternoon, true, it can
>be overwhelming if from a large bouquet in a closed room.  I just cut fewer
>flowers and often put the vase outside overnight where it is cooler; makes 
>flowers last longer along with cutting the fragrance load indoors!
>However, I must say that I find your dislike of the fragrance of hyacinth to
>be unusually severe.  To my nose, the fragrance of hyacinth represents the
>very essence of Spring!!  I couldn't have a garden without waves of 
>hyacinth.  I
>will often sit near them just to inhale deeply of that fragrance distilling
>itself on the edying currents of air.  I do have to say, however, get the
>fragrance when the flowers are fresh because, like a good brie when 
>mature, the odor
>deterioates to intolerable as the flowers fade.
>Many daffodils with jonquilla, tazetta or poeticus heritage can be intensely
>fragrant.  It's not common to find appealing fragrance in the large hybrids
>(to my nose, they often have a sharp and acrid stink!).  There is one, 
>that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in this flower:  'Fragrant
>Rose.'  Like it's namesake, this white with rose-pink corona daffodil has a
>light and appealing tea rose fragrance.  Many can readily detect the aroma 
>for others, alas, they perceive nothing.
>Dave Karnstedt
>Silverton, Oregon, USA
>Cool Mediterranean climate; USDA Zone 7-8
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